Bang the Rocks Together

By Shamus Posted Friday Dec 19, 2014

Filed under: Music 25 comments

This was sent to the Diecast email, but it seemed better to answer it in a post. (I don’t think the other hosts are eager to hear me talk about my music.)

So now that Shamus is spending more time and energy on music, and apparently enjoying the crap out of it. Is he eventually going to replace Kevin Macleod as the go to music guy?

Thanks BeardedDork

Someone else suggested putting the music up for sale on Bandcamp. So let’s talk about what I’m doing with this music business.

I’m trying very hard to keep my head about this. I know I’m pretty amateur. I don’t want to go all “Michael Jordan playing baseball” and spend my time working outside my skillset. I know the only reason I have anyone listening to my music at all is because I was already famousInternet famous. for other things. If it wasn’t for my existing audience, I’d be part of the vast army of obscure composers, toiling away and begging people to listen to my work.

On the other hand, this work is really fun. So I think the key here is to just keep it in moderation and make sure my composing time isn’t eating to my blogging or column-writing.

I doubt I’ll pose a threat to Macleod anytime soon. Even if I somehow caught up to him in terms of sheer volume, I’m far behind in musical knowledge. I only work in one genre, after all.

Speaking of which, I’ve decided I’ve made enough music to call it an “album”. So here is my first album, Bang the Rocks Together:

The tracks are listed in the order they were written. So you can (hopefully) hear my progress. (Spoiler: I can’t. My favorites are at the top and bottom. I don’t know what that means.)

All tracks should be freely available and released under creative commonsShare-attribution. You can use the music anywhere you like, even in commercial products. Just give me credit..

As for selling the work on Bandcamp: Eh. Even if I thought the work was good enough to warrant asking money for it (and if the world wasn’t already drowning in exactly this kind of music) I wouldn’t feel right asking for money directly. My Patreon ostensibly exists to support my work, and I don’t want my different works to compete with each other financially. When I sit down to be creative, I don’t want to have to worry about which type of thing is more profitable. Ideally, I’d just like to make stuff, and if people like it they can choose to support it.

So that’s what we’re doing.



[1] Internet famous.

[2] Share-attribution. You can use the music anywhere you like, even in commercial products. Just give me credit.

From The Archives:

25 thoughts on “Bang the Rocks Together

  1. Is your title an HHGTTG reference? For those who haven’t read it or don’t remember:

    “Reports brought to you here on the sub-etha waveband, broadcasting around the Galaxy, around the clock. We’ll be saying a big hello to all intelligent lifeforms everywhere. And to everyone else out there, the secret is to bang the rocks together, guys.”

    I think Shamus inadvertently invoked a more appropriate Terry Pratchett reference, from his novel, “Soul Music.” Rock music is known as “Music With Rocks In,” and it’s more of a phenomenon or force than something someone sets out to create, resulting in this exchange among those who seem to be “gifted” with the ability to make it:

    ‘We need to get it together if we’re going to wow them at the Festival,’ said Crash.
    ‘What, you mean … like … learn to play?’ said Jimbo.
    ‘No! Music With Rocks In just happens. If you go around learning you’ll never get anywhere,’ said Crash.

    1. Shamus says:

      HHGTTG reference is yes.

    2. joe says:

      Thank you for reminding me of Soul Music. That was the first Pratchett book I gave my mom and it got her into reading incessantly; gave us so much more to talk about than we previously had.

  2. Bryan says:

    Hmm, now I wonder what would happen if I plugged this music into Symphony

  3. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “Even if I thought the work was good enough to warrant asking money for it”

    Everything is worth as much as people are willing to pay for it.So why not put it on sale,even if its freely available elsewhere?You will not lose a thing if you put it in a place that works off a percentage,and even if all you get is just a couple of bucks,you will still gain a couple of bucks for free.

    What Im saying is:Put your video game inventory selling skills to use.Treat your music as junk stuff in new vegas,and dump that stuff on a vendor someplace.

    1. Atreusmonk says:

      Pretty much this. There’s no reason it can’t be freely available and have a way for people to specifically give you money for your music. You can even put it up on Bandcamp as PWYW.

      Also, even though I don’t stream much, I’ll have to download this and add it to my stream-able music list.

    2. Trix2000 says:

      You could accomplish the same thing by downloading the music for free, then adding to your Patreon donation the amount you’d pay for one month. Or increase the Patreon donation amount in general. Or just use the donate button on the side. Whatever seems better to you.

      Making the songs have separate payments just adds a wall where there doesn’t need to be one, since there’s already a way to support the artist and it sounds like Shamus is just happy to show off his work.

      I mean, I’m not really against the idea if he wants to do that, but it seems a little unnecessary to me.

      EDIT: PWYW does sound like a decent option, though.

      1. krellen says:

        You can PWYW pretty easily. Just hit that “Donate” button over there. —>

    3. evileeyore says:

      Also I think some of the people clamoring for you (Shamus) to put it where it can be bought directly are doing so in the hopes you can get your name out to a wider musical audience.

      People whom enjoy things often like to see what they enjoy shared with others.

  4. Decius says:

    I placed it- your music is the correct background music from the tablet game PWN.

  5. The Rocketeer says:

    I didn’t notice until I listened to the album as a whole, but you use the same 1-4-5 chord progression in almost all of these songs, and it really wears me out listening to it.

    Even within a given song, changing it up for a section would be really worthwhile.

  6. Gilfareth says:

    I will say this to you, Shamus: this album is unreasonably good for both Audiosurf and listening to while I work on code. I do hope you keep making more.

    1. Felblood says:

      Oooh, Audiosurfing with Shamus.

      I have to try that.

  7. Cybron says:

    My favorite is still the Dues Ex tribute song. However, I’m not sure if that’s because it’s the best or if because I’m unreasonably fond of cyberpunk stuff.

  8. Trainzack says:

    Now you need to procedurally generate music. Then everyone will love you!

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:


    2. MadTinkerer says:



      DO IT

    3. Felblood says:


      Now, I’m just thinking about this idea I’ve had simmering on one of the back burners of my brain for a few years now, and I’m going to get no productive creative work done all week.

      Picture a space Shoot em up, where your ship’s weapons create dubstep music dynamically from your movements and weapon switching.

      The mega-bomb analogue would cause bass drops.

      I was inspired by the way the machine gun in Raptor: Call of the Shadows was synced to the rhythm of the game soundtrack, but a good sales pitch would probably be more about comparing it to Dubstep Wars, even though I found that game disappointing and repetitive.

      1. Bryan says:

        …Sales pitch to who? Comparing it to Raptor would be way better if you were pitching it to me. Not that you are of course, but still… :-P

  9. Shamus, what you could do is use something like to sell your album as a lossless (FLAC) download.

    That way you can let folks listen for free and if they want to throw some cash your way for the effort, buy the lossless release.

    I don’t use Soundcloud, but Jamendo instead, where I do use a Creative Commons SA license, and I’m also in Jamendo’s catalog for commercial use (where a company get the wav/flac files and a signed waiver to show whoever need to see it that the music is truly royalty free/licensed properly.)

    In addition I use Routenote to get my music on iTunes, Spotify, WiMP, Amazon etc.
    Cool thing is that they provide a UPC barcode for free (few if any others do that it’s usually extra and if you plan to print a CD then you can use this UPC barcode), and they provide ISRC codes for your tracks (required by some stores and radios/stream services).
    They also let you set a high, normal, or low pricing preference (there is no 0 or free setting sadly).

    I haven’t seen any cash from the streaming service or digital stores yet. (way to low profile for that). And has only had a few sales. Then again I’m not actively advertising my 3 old albums (I do mention them now and again and I do plop links to it in forum signatures where available), I’m more in it for the exposure (and my music has been put into the National Library of Norway’s digital archives (which I’m kind of proud of).
    It’s really Jamendo where my music has gotten the most attention, surprisingly high play count, and a very high download count as well, so out there somebody is liking my music which is kind of neat.

    Jamendo is free and they recently redesigned the Jamendo PRO thing and the way you sign the waiver which should make it easier/better to get on Jamendo and less confusing. is free but takes a 15% cut of the profits, and same with RouteNote it’s free but a 15% cut (they also got a subscription option if you want all the profits yourself and a fixed expense instead.)

    So if you are a struggling/starting artist those three will get your music out there at 0 cost to you, no hidden fees and it’s not a 1 year free then they charge, it’s clean cut and simple and I’ve been happy with all for a few years now.
    There may be similar or better alternatives out there but they tend to have a monthly or yearly fee in addition to their cut, or they charge for extras like UPC or ISRC codes. also supports Creative Commons licenses so you can give away the msuic free if you want (they got their own torrent tracker for that, hence the name indieTorrent), the non free tracks are direct downloads.

    Another reason I like indieTorrent is that they are one of the few that allow 24Bit 48KHz FLAC (which is my original “studio master”), I’ve looked at others that can offer FLAC downloads to people but they only support 16bit 44.1KHz for example, which is a shame.

    I like these services enough that the album(s) I’ll be releasing in the future will use these services too, the experiment by putting my old albums up on them and spending a few years evaluating the services paid off, I made a good choice on all three and have no problem recommending them to anyone.

  10. Museli says:

    Thanks for putting these into an album Shamus – I much prefer to have albums over singles, as I tend to listen to music one album at a time.

    Out of curiosity, I have a question for everyone else – where does Shamus fit in your music collection? For me, he’s between Shalamar (disco greats behind ‘I Can Make You Feel Good’ and country-pop legend Shania Twain.

  11. Felblood says:

    “All tracks should be freely available and released under creative commons.”


    The amateur indie scene is hurting so bad for mood driven techno, I can’t even express how awesome it is to have one more person solving this problem.

  12. Starkos says:

    Maybe the question of “Will you replace Kevin MacLeod?” Isn’t so much “Are you going to kick him off the internets?” and more “Are you going to use your music in Spoiler Warning as you do on the Diecast?”

  13. Core Xii says:

    I can’t find any way to download the whole album at once. I’m not downloading 14 separate files.

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